St. Boniface, Archbishop and Martyr
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

St. Boniface, the great Apostle of Germany, was a native of England. He was baptized under the name of Winfrid but received the name Boniface from the Pope, on account of the great good which he did. Boniface means one who does good. When scarcely 5 years old, he requested of his parents to be sent to a monastery, in order to be instructed by the monks as well in religion as in other sciences. His father opposed this wish, but falling sick and believing it a punishment sent by God, he gave his consent and recovered immediately. Winfrid received the instruction he desired in two monasteries, and took the habit of the religious of St. Benedict. How greatly his virtues and learning were esteemed by the brethren of this order, may be seen from the fact that in the course of a few years, they unanimously elected him successor of their late Abbot. Boniface, however refused to accept the dignity, and on making known his desire to preach the Gospel to the heathens, he succeeded so well in representing everything connected with his plan, that the monks not only abstained from further efforts to persuade him to yield, but gave him permission, with several others whose hearts were filled with the same desire, to go to Rome and offer himself to the Pope for so holy a work. Hence, Boniface bade farewell to his brethren and left England with his companions. Gregory II., at that time Pope, was greatly rejoiced when Boniface informed him of his intention, and after having had several conversations with him on the subject, he gave him the powers of an Apostolic missionary, with full permission to preach the Gospel everywhere, especially in Germany. He presented him at the same time some relics and dismissed him with his pontifical blessing. Boniface, leaving Rome, went first to Bavaria, then to Thuringia, where the Christian faith was, almost extinguished, and where idolatry and wickedness prevailed. In the space of 6 months he led the Christians to a better life, and cleansed almost the whole of Thuringia from idolatry.

During this time, Boniface received news of the death of Radbod, Duke of Friesland, an arch-enemy of the Christian faith, during whose reign the Saint had preached a short time in Friesland, but finding that he could do but little good, had quickly returned to England. Inspired, however, by God, he determined, now that circumstances had thus changed, to go once more to Friesland and endeavor to convert the inhabitants. On arriving at Utrecht, he went to St. Willibrord, first bishop off the church there, and spent in the city and neighboring places three years in preaching and instructing the people. His success was so great, that all the inhabitants became Christians, all the idolatrous temples were overthrown or changed into Christian churches. After this, the indefatigable apostolic preacher went to Hesse, where in a very short time he converted many thousands to the Christian faith, built many churches and supplied them with pious priests. He also built several monasteries and convents for those who desired to serve God more perfectly. As however the Saint could not supervise so much work unaided, he called from England several zealous priests, who lent a willing hand to the work he had begun. He also invited some pious virgins, to govern the convents which he had erected. Several of his fellow-laborers were sent to Rome to inform the Pope of the progress of Christendom. The Pope was highly rejoiced and desired to see Boniface himself. The Saint therefore went a second time to Rome, was most kindly received by the holy Father, and consecrated bishop. It was at this time that his name Winfrid was changed into Boniface.

Soon after this, the bishop returned to Germany. Hesse abounded yet with people still in the darkness of paganism. An immense tree which stood there was called the power or might of Jupiter, and it was worshipped as a god. The holy bishop could not endure this sacrilege, and although the pagans threatened to kill him if he touched the tree, he went to the place where it stood, and seized an ax to fell it. At the first stroke, the power of Jupiter, the immense tree, fell to the ground and was split into four parts. This visible miracle opened the eyes of the heathens and moved them to abandon idolatry. The bishop erected, in the place where the tree had stood, a chapel in honor of St. Peter. In Thuringia, whither he went next, he built a church in honor of the Archangel Michael on the place where the latter had appeared to him and exhorted him to continue bravely in the work that he had begun. Divers affairs of the Church made a third journey to Rome necessary; and Gregory III., who then occupied the chair of St. Peter, showed great honors to St. Boniface, and sent him back to Germany, after having bestowed on him, among many other graces, the title of apostolic legate. When, on his return, the Duke of Bavaria invited him to remain some time in his Dukedom, the holy man acquiesced, as this gave him an opportunity to convert the remaining heathens and lead those Christians, who had been seduced from the true faith by godless impostors, back upon the right path.

By his holy conduct and incessant preaching he arrived at the desired end, and divided the whole country into four bishoprics, in order to give the newly converted better opportunities to be instructed and preserved In the faith. Salzburg, Friesingen, Regensburg and Passau were the four cities where he established bishoprics, providing them with able men. The same he did soon after at Eichstadt and Wurzburg in Franconia, where he for some time labored to the great benefit of the heathens. The sea of Eichstadt he gave into the charge of St. Willibald, that of Wurzburg to St. Burchard. He founded many convents and churches, as well in the above-named States as also in Thuringia and Hesse, especially at Fritzlar, Ehrfurt, Amoeneburg and Fulda. He erected monasteries especially with the intention to educate such men, in them as would be able to defend the true faith, to instruct the faithful in leading a Christian life, and to bring to the true Church those who were still heathens. He himself was created by the Pope archbishop of Mentz, where he remained for seven years in continued apostolic labor for the salvation of those in his charge.

Meanwhile, the greater part of the inhabitants of Friesland had again, for some unknown reason, forsaken Christianity, and returned to their former idolatry. No sooner had St. Boniface heard this, than he determined to proceed thither. Hence, with the permission of the Pope, he resigned the see of Mentz to his disciple Lullus, and set out for Friesland, accompanied by some zealous men, foremost among whom were Eobanus and Adelar. On arriving there, he began forthwith to preach, and converted a great number of the inhabitants to Christ. He baptized those whom he had sufficiently instructed, and others, who had been seduced to forsake the true faith, he reconciled with God and the Church. Happy in the consciousness of such great success, the Saint appointed a day on which he would publicly administer the holy Sacrament of confirmation to strengthen the newly converted in the faith. No church was large enough to contain the number of those who desired to be confirmed; in consequence of which tents were erected in an open field not far from the river Borne. The appointed day had come, and a large crowd of Christians had assembled, eager to receive the sacrament. Suddenly, however, came a band of heathens, who, incited by their idolatrous priests, had vowed to kill Boniface, as the greatest enemy of their idols. Armed with weapons they approached the holy man and his companions. When Boniface perceived them, he thanked God with a loud voice for having vouchsafed to him the long desired opportunity to die for Christ's sake; then having encouraged his companions bravely to suffer pain and death, he went to meet the barbarians, with the gospel, which he carried almost constantly with him, in his hands. He spoke fearlessly to them; but, not willing to lend ear to him, one of them stabbed him with his sword with such force, that he sank dead to the ground. The companions of the Saint suffered the same death.

Thus gloriously did this truly, apostolic man finish his laborious career, in the year 754, or according to other historians, 755, in the fortieth year after his arrival in Germany. How much he endured during these forty years, in wandering through so many lands and converting so great a number of people; how unweariedly he labored; what persecutions he suffered from heathens, from heretics, and even from wicked Catholics, is more easily imagined than described. But nothing could daunt his great heart, which, filled with love of God and man, untiringly executed what his apostolic zeal dictated. He seemed never satisfied with the work he had already performed, or with the suffering he had borne for the honor of God and the salvation of man. His insatiable desire to save souls incited him constantly to more work and more suffering. He feared no danger, but fervently desired to conclude his labors by receiving the crown of martyrdom. God granted his wish; after having lived for the Almighty alone, he was permitted to shed his blood for Christ. He was first buried at Utrecht, then removed to Mentz, and at last brought to Fulda by the Archbishop St. Lullus.

Practical Considerations

St. Boniface fearlessly meets his enemies who have come to kill him. Thus he wishes to imitate, in his last hour, the Saviour whom he had constantly followed during life. To follow Christ as closely as possible, is every man's duty. Whoever neglects this is no true Christian, and can have no hope to be saved. "I am no true Christian," says St. Bernard, "if I do not follow Christ." "Vainly does he bear the name of Christian, who does not follow Christ," writes St. Augustine. The hope of salvation if we do not follow Christ is taken from us by Christ himself by these words: "And he that taketh not up his cross and followeth me, is not worthy of me" (Matt. x.). If you, therefore, desire to be a true Christian and hope to gain salvation, endeavor to follow Christ, your Lord, as St. Boniface did. If you do not venture to follow Christ so far as to meet suffering, as this Saint did, follow Him at least so far as to carry your cross patiently. Follow Him in gentleness, in humility, in fervency of prayer, in submission to God's holy will, in obedience, in love to your neighbor and in similar virtues.

II. During the space of 40 years St. Boniface suffered and labored for the honor of God and the salvation of souls. After this, he went through a glorious martyrdom, into the house of his eternity, where he now enjoys an indescribably great and everlasting reward. Why is it called "his eternity?" There are two eternities, one in heaven, the other in hell. Every human being will come into one of these, which is called his eternity. He cannot change from one eternity into the other, but will always remain where he entered by death. There will be his house, his abode; there he will dwell for ever. Whoever enters purgatory, belongs to the happy eternity of heaven. He dwells in purgatory only until he is completely cleansed, and after this, his house, his eternal abode is in heaven. Where will be your house, your abode? In heaven or in hell? The house, the abode of St. Boniface, is in the happy eternity of heaven. Why not in hell, like that of the rich man, the unhappy Judas, and of thousands of others? The answer to this is as follows : Because St. Boniface, during his earthly life, did not build himself a house in hell, like the rich man, Judas and thousands of others, but he built it in heaven. And how did he build it there? By avoiding sin; by good works, and by patience in sufferings and crosses.

Impress deeply on your heart what I am now going to tell you. Every man, builds himself a house in eternity, while living on earth. And in that eternity, in which he has built his house, he shall dwell. In that house, which he has built during his life, he is to dwell for ever. By sin and vice, by the neglect of good works, man builds himself a house in hell; but by avoiding sin and doing good works, he builds himself a house in heaven. Can you now answer the question I addressed to you above; where will one day be your house, your abode? in heaven or in hell? Look back on your life and see how until now you have been building your house, and you will easily find the answer. Ah! your many sins and vices are surely no materials for building a house in heaven, but for one in hell. Have you then until the present moment been building your house in hell? Will you soon take possession of it and dwell in it? Consider well what you are doing! This I may say for your comfort: by true repentance you can tear down the house, and by perseverance in penance, by avoiding sin, by good deeds, patience in crosses and sufferings, you can yet build yourself a magnificent house, nay even a palace in heaven, and dwell therein eternally. You must, however, immediately begin to tear down the old house and to erect the new one. God grants you still time and grace. "Behold now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation" (II. Cor. vi.). Soon will it be said, "Time shall be no longer!" (Apoc. x.)

Litany of Saint Boniface

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World,
Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Pray for us. *

Holy Mother of God, *
Holy Virgin of virgins, *
Queen of the Apostles, *
Saint Boniface, *
Apostle of Germany, *
Worthy successor of the Apostles, *
Worthy disciple of Saint Benedict, *
Ornament of the Catholic Church, *
Thou light, shining for the conversion of pagan nations, *
Thou light, shining like the sun, *
Thou great benefactor of many nations, *
Thou zealous preacher of the Gospel, *
Thou unwearied laborer in the vineyard of the Lord, *
Thou founder of the Catholic Church in Germany, *
Saint Boniface, our Father, *
St. Boniface, teacher of truth and virtue, *
St. Boniface, extirpator of heathenism, *
St. Boniface, destroyer of heresy, *
St. Boniface, great Bishop and model of missionaries, *
St. Boniface, protector of missions, *
St. Boniface, founder of many monasteries, *
St. Boniface, powerful advocate with God, *
St. Boniface, who didst work many miracles, *
St. Boniface, great martyr of faith, *
That God may preserve and confirm us in our holy Catholic religion, *
That God may grant us grace to walk piously and faithfully before Him, *
That God may humble the enemies of His Church, *
That God may grant the grace of true faith to all heretics and infidels, *
That God may give us that spirit with which thou didst serve Him, *
That God may restore the Faith to the whole of Germany, *
That God may raise up zealous missionaries to convert all pagans and heretics, *
That the Holy Spirit may enlighten all missionaries, *

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Our Father, etc., for the conversion of Germany and of all heathens.

Let us pray:

Merciful God, Who hast shown compassion to so many heathen nations, through Thy faithful servant St. Boniface: we humbly pray Thee to revive and preserve that faith which he preached in Thy Holy Name, that we may receive Thy revelations with a faithful heart, and so regulate our lives as to gain the Heavenly Kingdom. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. R. Amen.

Preserve and increase, we beseech Thee, O God, the faith of Thy children, and lead back to the true fold all those who have been separated or have separated themselves from it. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.


St. Boniface, Apostle of Germany.
Bishop and Martyr

(from the Liturgical Year, 1904)

The Son of Man, proclaimed King in the highest heavens, on His triumphant Ascension-Day, leaves to his Bride on earth, the task of making his sovereign dominion recognized here below: this is her glory. Pentecost gives the signal for the Church's work of conquest; now does she awake, aroused by the breath of the Holy Ghost; replenished with this Spirit of Love, she is all eagerness, as he is, to be possessed at once of the whole earth. We have already seen the Franks and the Anglo-Saxons, pledging in her hands, their oath of fealty to Christ, to Whom is given all power on earth and in heaven (St. Matth. xxviii. 18). Today, we see how Winfrid, realizes the fair name of Boniface, or welldoer, given him by Pope Gregory II. Lo! he presents himself before us, surrounded by the multitudes he has snatched, at one blow, from paganism and barbarism alike. Thanks to the Apostle of Germany, the hour is nigh, when the Church may constitute in this world, apart the spiritual dominion of souls, an empire more powerful than any that has ever been or is to be.

The Eternal Father draws to his Son (St. John, vi. 44.--Ps. ii. 6, 8), not men only, but nations; these are on earth, no less his inheritance, than heaven is for all eternity. Now, the good pleasure that God takes in the Word made Flesh could never be content with merely seeing nations to come, one here, another there, offering an isolated homage of recognition to His Christ, as their Lord and Master. No; it was the whole world that was promised as His possession, without distinction of nations, without limits, save the confines of the round orb itself (Ps. ii. 6, 8): recognized or not, His power is universal. In the case of many, no doubt, the contempt or the ignorance of this regal claim of the Man-God, is to last on throughout ages; for revolt, alas! is always possible and to all. Yet, did it behove the Church to profit, as soon as might be, of her influence over baptized nations, so as to gather them together in one public acknowledgement of the Royalty of Christ, the source of every kingly power. At the Pontiff's side, there seemed to be a fitting place for a mailed chieftain of Christendom, such an one, that is, as should be but lieutenant of Christ, who alone is Lord of lords and King of kings. Thus would be realized, in all its plenitude, the magnificent principality announced by the Prophets (Ibid. lxxi), for the Son of David.

Such an institution was indeed worthy of the name it was to receive of the Holy Empire: in it we have the final result of our glorious Pentecost, as being the consummation of the testimony rendered by the Holy Ghost to Jesus, both as Pontiff and as King (St. John, xv. 26). In a few days, Leo III. the illustrious Pope called by the Holy Spirit to crown this, His divine work, will proclaim, to the joy of the whole world, the establishment of this new empire beneath the sceptre-sway of the Man-Grod, in the person of Charlemagne, the representative of the King of kings. This marvellous work was not prepared on a sudden. Vast regions, destined to form the very nucleus of this future empire, for long centuries knew not so much as the very name of the Lord Jesus; or, at best, preserved but confused notions of truth, derived from some earlier evangelization that had been stifled in its birth, by the turmoil of invasions, a mere mixture of Christian practices and idolatrous superstitions. At length we behold Boniface arise, endued with power from on high (St. John, xv. 26), the worthy precursor of Saint Leo III. Born of those "Angel-faced" Angles, by whom ancient Britain was transformed into the "Island of Saints," he burns to carry into the heart of Germany, whence his ancestors had sprung, the light which first shone upon them, in the land of their conquest.

Thirty years of monastic life, begun in childhood despite the tears and caresses of a tender father, had braced his soul. Matured by this long period of retreat and silence, filled with divine science, and accompanied by the prayers of his cloistered brethren, he could now in all security set forth, to follow the attraction of a divine call. But first and foremost, Rome beholds him at the feet of the Sovereign Pontiff, submitting his plans and prospects to him who is the only source of all "mission" in the Church. Gregory II, in every way worthy of the great Popes that have borne that name, was at that time, watching with apostolic vigilance over the Christian world. Amidst the rocks and shoals of Lombard astuteness and of the heretical infatuation of Leo the Isaurian, his firm and prudent hand was safely guiding the bark of Peter, towards the glorious sovereignty that awaited the Church, in the coming eighth Century. In the humble monk prostrate at his feet, the immortal Pontiff could not but recognize a potent auxiliary sent to him by heaven; and so, armed with the Apostolic benediction, Winfrid, now become Boniface feels the powerful attraction of the Holy Spirit, drawing him irresistibly to conquests, of which ancient Rome had never dreamed.

Beyond the Rhine, farther than Roman legions ever penetrated, the Bride of the Man-God now advances into this barbarous land, along pathways tracked for her by Boniface; overturning in her victorious march, the last idols of the false gods, civilizing and sanctifying those savage hordes, the scourge of the old world. This Anglo-Saxon, a true son of Saint Benedict, gives to his work a stability that will defy the lapse of ages. Everywhere, monasteries arise, rooting themselves to the very soil, for God's sake; and by force of example and beneficence, fixing around them its various nomad tribes. From the river banks, from the forest depths, instead of cries of war and of vengeance, is wafted the accent of prayer and of praise, to the Most High. Sturm, the beloved disciple of Saint Boniface, presides over these pacific colonizations, far superior to those of pagan Rome, planted though they were by her noblest veterans and manned by the best forces of her Empire.

Lo! another sight: here, where violence has hitherto reigned supreme, in these savage wilds, a novel kind of army is organized, formed of the gentle Brides of Christ. The Spirit of Pentecost, like a mighty wind, has blown over the land of the Angles; and, even as in the Cenacle, holy women had a share in its influence, consecrated Virgins, obedient to the heavenly impulse, have quitted the land of their birth, yea even the monastery that has sheltered them from childhood. Having for a while administered only, at a distance, to Winfrid's needs, and copied out for him, the sacred books in letters of gold; they at length come to join the apostle. Fearlessly have they crossed the sea, and guided by their divine Spouse, have come to share the labours undertaken here for His glory. Lioba is at their head; Lioba whose gentle majesty, whose heavenly aspect uplifts the thought from things terrene; Lioba, who by her knowledge of the scriptures, of the Fathers, and of the sacred Canons, is equal to any of the most celebrated Doctors. But the Holy Ghost has still more richly gifted the soul of Lioba with humility and Christian heroism. Behold the chosen Mother of the German nation! Germany's scornful daughters, athirst for blood, who on their wedding-day disdained all other gift save a steed, a buckler, and a lance (Tacit. De mor. Germ. 18), are to learn from her the true qualities of the valiant woman. No more shall they be seen, intoxicated with slaughter, leading back to the field of battle, their vanquished husbands; but the virtues of the wife and of the mother shall replace in them the fury of the camp; family life is to be founded on the Germanic soil and therewith, the "Fatherland".

This was the thought of Boniface, when he called to his aid Lioba, Walburga, and their companions. Worn out with toil, but still more with the incessant wear and fret of petty jealousies, (never spared to men of God, on the part of such as would cover their paltry complaints under the cloak of false zeal,) our athlete of Christ was not ashamed to come to Lioba, his well-beloved daughter, humbly seeking from her, that enlightened counsel and comfort, never denied. Estimating at its true worth, the share she had borne in his work, he was desirous that she should be laid to rest in the same tomb, prepared for him in his Abbey of Fulda.

But not yet was his labour ended, nor the evening of life at hand. The spiritual weal of his numberless converts must be secured, and at their head must be placed such as the Holy Ghost designated for the government of God's Church (Acts, xx. 28). By his means, the hierarchy was constituted and developed; the land was covered with churches; and, beneath the crosier-sway of holy bishops chosen by God, these once wandering tribes, now began to live a life of glory to the Most Blessed Trinity, in a country, but yesterday, pagan, and wherein Satan had hoped to perpetuate his own domination.

Nor was this our saint's only work in Germany: in certain isolated parts on the confines, the seeds of Arianism and Manicheeism had been silently taking root, by means of an intruded clergy, half pagan and half Christian in their rites; and these would inevitably prove a serious scandal to his recent converts that came within reach of their influence. Even as Christ, armed with a whip of cords, drove the buyers and sellers from the temple, so did Boniface, by vigorous measures, rid the land of these sectarian priests, who, with hands polluted by heathenish sacrifices to the vanquished deities of Valhalla, dared to offer also the spotless victim to the Most High.

The powerful action of Boniface, as the precursor of the Holy Empire, was not confined to preparing the German race alone, for its share in so high a destiny. His beneficent influence was now to be exercised, and at a most critical moment, upon France, the eldest daughter of the Church; for she was chosen, in the person of her Princes, to be the first to bear the emblem of Christ's universal kingship. The descendants of Clovis had preserved naught of his royal inheritance, save the vain title of a power that had now just passed into the hands of a new family, a more vigorous branch of his stock. Charles Martel, the head of this race, measuring his strength with the Moors had crushed their entire army, near Poitiers: but, in the flush of victory, the hero of the day had well nigh brought the Church of France to the brink of ruin, by distributing to his comrades in arms, the episcopal sees and abbeys of the land! Unless a situation, no less disastrous than would have been the triumph of Abderahman, was to be accepted, these usurped crosiers must at once be wrested from the hands of such strange titularies. To effect this, as much gentleness as firmness were needed, together with an ascendency belonging only to virtue, if the hero of Poitiers and his noble race were to be gained over, to respect the rights of holy Church. This victory, more glorious than had been the defeat of the Moors, was won by Boniface, a veritable triumph of disarmed holiness, as profitable to the vanquished as to the Church herself! Of this fierce warrior, he was to make the worthy father of a second dynasty, the glory whereof should far surpass the brilliant hopes of the first race of Frankish kings.

Boniface, now Legate of Pope St. Zachary, as he had formerly been of Gregory III, fixed his Episcopal see at Mainz, the better, at one and the same time, to hold fast to Christ, both Germany, the conquest of his earlier apostolate, and France more recently rescued by his labours. Like another Samuel, he himself, with his own hands, consecrated this new regal dynasty, by conferring the sacred unction on Pepin le Bref, son of Charles Martel. This was in the year 752. Another Charles, as yet a child, who was one day to inherit that throne thus firmly fixed, attracted the notice of the aged Saint, and received his benediction; it was the future Charlemagne. But, to the hand of a Sovereign Pontiff would be reserved the anointing of that royal brow; and a diadem more glorious still than that of a king of the Franks, was one day to rest thereon, exhibiting in his person the head of the new Roman Empire, the lieutenant of Christ, the King of kings.

The personal work of Boniface was now accomplished; like the old man Simeon, his eyes had seen the object of all his ambition, of all his life-long toil, the salvation prepared by God, for this new Israel. He too had now no desire left save that of departing in peace to his Lord; but, could the entering into peace, for such an Apostle, be by other gate than that of martyrdom? He understands this well: his hour has sounded: the old warrior has chosen his last battle-field. Friesland is still pagan: half a century ago, at the opening of his apostolic career, he had avoided this country, in order to escape the bishopric which Saint Willibrord, at that early date, was anxious to force upon him: but now that she has naught, save death, to offer him, he will enter this land. In a letter of sublime humility, prostrate at the feet of Pope Stephen III, he remits to the correction of the Apostolic See, the "awkward mistakes," as he terms them, and the many faults of his long life (Epist. lxxviii); to Lullus his dearest son, he leaves the Church of Mainz; he recommends to the care of the Frankish king, the several priests scattered all through Germany, the monks and virgins who from distant homes have followed him hither. Then ordering to be placed, amongst the few books which he is taking with him, the winding sheet that is to enwrap his body, he designates the companions chosen by him for the journey, and sets out to win the martyr's palm.

Let us now read the liturgical record
of this grand life.

Boniface, formerly called Winfrid, was a native of Anglia, born towards the end of the seventh century. From his very childhood, he turned away from the world and set his heart upon becoming a monk, his father tried in vain to divert him from his wishes by the beguilements of the world, and he entered a monastery, where under blessed Wolphard he was instructed in all virtuous discipline and every kind of knowledge. At the age of twenty nine years he was ordained Priest, and became an unwearied preacher of the word of God, wherein he had a special gift, which he used with great gain of souls. Nevertheless, his great desire was to spread the kingdom of Christ, and he continually bewailed the vast number of barbarians, who were plunged in the darkness of ignorance and were slaves of the devil. This zealous love of souls increased in him in intensity day by day, till having implored the divine aid by prayers and tears, he at last obtained the permission of the Prior of the monastery, to set forth for Germany.

He sailed from Anglia with two companions and reached the town of Dorestadt in Friesland. A great war then raging between Radbod, king of the Frieslanders and Charles Martel, he preached the Gospel without fruit: for which reason returning to Anglia, he betook himself again to his former monastery, the government of which against his will, he was forced to accept. After two years, he obtained the consent of the Bishop of Winchester, to resign his office, and he then went to Rome, that by the Apostolic authority he might be delegated to the mission for the converting of the heathens. When he arrived at the City, he was courteously welcomed by Gregory II, who changed his name from Winfrid to Boniface. He departed thence to Germany and preached Christ to the tribes in Thuringia and Saxony. Radbod King of Friesland who bitterly hated the Christian name, being dead, Boniface went a second time among the Frieslanders, and there, with his companion St. Willibrord, preached the Gospel for three years, with so much fruit, that the idols were hewn down, and countless churches arose to the true God.

Saint Willibrord urged upon him to take the office of Bishop, but he refused, so that he might the more instantly toil for the salvation of the unbelievers. Advancing into Germany, he reclaimed thousands of the Hessians from devilish superstition. Pope Gregory sent for him, to Rome, and after receiving from him a noble profession of his faith, consecrated him a bishop. He again returned to Germany, and thoroughly purged Hesse and Thuringia from all remains of idolatry. On account of such great works, Gregory III advanced Boniface to the dignity of an archbishop, and on the occasion of a third journey to Rome, he was invested by the Sovereign Pontiff with the powers of Legate of the Apostolic See. As such, he founded four bishoprics and held divers synods, among which is especially to be remembered that of Lessines held in Belgium, in the diocese of Cambrai, at which time he made his strongest efforts to spread the Faith among the Belgians. By Pope Zachary, he was named Archbishop of Mainz, and by command of the same Pope, he anointed Pepin to be king of the Franks. After the death of Saint Willibrord, he undertook the government of the Church of Utrecht, at first by the ministry of Eoban, but afterwards by himself, when being released from the care of the Church of Mainz, he established his see at Utrecht. The Frieslanders having again fallen back into idolatry, he once more betook himself to preach the Gospel among them, and while he was busied in this duty, he won the palm of martyrdom being slain by some impious barbarians, who attacked him together with his fellow bishop Eoban, and many others, on the river Born. In accordance with the wish expressed by himself during life, the body of Saint Boniface was carried to Mainz and buried in the Monastery of Fulda, of which he had been the founder, and which he has rendered illustrious by numerous miracles. Pope Pius IX. ordered his Office and Mass to be extended to the universal Church.